North Carolina Newspapers

    The Daily Tar Heel Wednesday, April 1, 1992 7
Suff Writer
Ladies, the writing is on the wall:
"The feminist mistake."
"Feminism: the Great Experiment
that Failed."
"The myths of the women's move
ment." The revolution is over. Someone
better tell Thelma and Louise.
Despite efforts by the media and
politicianstothecontrary, the women's
movement is not dead? said Leslie
Wolfe, executive director for the Cen
ter for Women's Policy Studies in
Washington, D.C.
"We've been though 12 years of an
incredible right-wing backlash that
changed how we look at women's is
sues and has cut back our progress, but
it has not in any way eliminated the
women' s movement," she said. "Femi
nism has not changed except to get
more sophisticated and broad-based."
Anita Hill's charges of sexual ha
rassment against Supreme Court Jus
tice Clarence Thomas, the William
Kennedy Smith rape trial and the up
coming challenge to Roe vs. Wade
ha ve brought women back to the move
ment, Wolfe said.
"In the 1980s, we were too busy
trying to survive the Reagan-Bush hos
tility to equality. In the '70s, this rage
was a common thing to talk about,"
Feminist generation gap
Although barriers to women still
exist, the women's movement has bro
ken them down a little, said Ruby
Sinreich, an environmental protection
major from Chapel Hill. "We can vote
and we can, at least in theory, hold
certain jobs outside the home we
couldn't hold before."
But sexism can't be eliminated sim
ply because it is prohibited by law.
"Even when sexism is formally abol
ished, it still exists because you can't
legislate what's in people's minds,"
Sinreich said.
The political and social conserva
tism of the 1980s and, some say, the
1990s made feminists seem like rabid
dinosaurs in an era of complacency.
"Our mothers were the bra-burning
generation. They had to be totally radi
cal extreme to prove a point," said
Elizabeth Bass, a senior political sci
ence major from West Palm Beach,
Fla. "We can be a little more moderate
now, and hopefully that will make our
generation more readily accepting of
The fact that women now constitute
almost half of the work force, and one
in every two women works, shows that
the agenda of feminism has changed,
Bass said.
The issues most important to today 's
feminists involve basic human rights
equal pay for equal work, equal
treatment in the workplace, child care,
maternity and paternity leave and the
right to walk at night being raped.
"In the 1970s, we were fighting to
yynnor in women's
By Yi-Hsin Chang
Assistant Features Editor
In May, 30 students will graduate
with certificates in women's studies.
They will be the last class restricted
to do so.
For the first time 16 years after
the establishment of the women's stud
ies program the University will of
fer a minor in women's studies.
Barbara Harris, director of the
women's studies program since 1989,
said the requ irements for the minor and
foracert ificate are essentially the same.
The only difference is that cross-listed
courses in a student's major will not
count towards the minor.
To be el igible for a minor in women's
studies, a student must take IS credits,
or five courses. Credits must include
Women's Studies 50, an introductory
course, and must come from at least
four divisions of the College of Arts
and Sciences.
The women's studies program still
will award certificates to students who
do not fulfill the minor's requirements
but do satisfy the requirements for a
certificate, Harris said. But adminis
trators plan to phase out the awarding
of the certificate in the next few years.
A certificate recognizes a student's
expertise in women's studies and is
noted on the student's transcript.
Since its founding in 1976, the
women's studies program has offered
a major in women's studies, but stu
dents can major in it only through the
interdisciplinary studies program.
But most students don't even realize
they can major in women's studies,
Harris said. Many students choose an
other field despite an interest in
women's studies because students ma
joring in interdisciplinary studies can
not double major in another discipline.
"If we had an independent degree
you could double major."
The women's studies program hopes
to let students do exactly that. Program
administrators are writing a proposal
to establ ish an independent curriculum
with a separate major, Harris said.
"It marginalizes women's studies
that we're the only program in interdis
fight for cquattt Jar Jrom over
integrate medical and law schools," said
Susie Gilligan, spokeswoman for the
Fund for the Feminist Majority. "Women
are fighting at a different level now.
"We've integrated little league teams.
Now we're trying to break the glass
Still women in silly hats?
While a majority of women support
the goals of feminism, many are reluc
tant to call themselves a feminist, said
Susan Faludi, a Pulitzer Prize-winning
Wall Street Journal reporter and the
author of "Backlash: The Undeclared
War against American Women."
The hesitancy to use the feminist label
may be because some women have a
rigid definition of feminism.
Wolfe took the hard line: "In order to
call yourself a feminist and to be one,
you have to believe in the full equality of
men and women, not 'full equality, but
... ,"' she said.
"You have to believe in each woman's
right to have a child, their right to have
an abortion, their right to say no to sex
and not have to be raped," she said. "You
can hardly call yourself a feminist if you
don't support those things."
Others say that the women's move
ment has been stereotyped negatively
over the last ten years.
"Reagan and Bush have promoted the
image of feminists as hairy-legged, fat
and ugly, homewreckers, manless or les
bians," Sinreich said. "Most feminists
don't fall into those categories."
Bass said that today, feminism is con
sidered a dirty word. "It's like being
radical, because it threatens the tradi
tional way society has done things."
"The '80s saw a big return to family
values," saidMelinda Manning, a sopho
more political science major from
Hazelwood and member of the UNC
Women's Forum. "There's all this me
dia and political hoopla saying that
women don't have to work, that they can
stay home and have a 'Leave it to Bea
ver' lifestyle. A lot of people think femi
nism has achieved its goals, but there's
still a lot of work to do."
Women have to get beyond the se
mantics of the term and start concentrat
ing on the issues that are really impor
tant, Wolfe said.
"Though the attempt to make femi
nism a bad word has been somewhat
successful, I'm not worried," she said.
"This was the way it was in 1972, in the
'20s. I'm not worried."
The anti-feminists
The "post-feminist" image hyped by
the media and politicians emphasizes a
return to family values and a lack of
concern for women's issues:
Barbara Bush, in her controversial
1991 commencement speech to
Wellesley, said, "At the end of your life,
you will never regret not . . . winning one
more verdict. You will regret time not
spent with a husband, a child."
Good Housekeeping launched its
"New Traditionalist" advertising cam
paign, in which career women long for a
traditional lifestyle: "My mother was
ciplinary studies
that's not a cur
riculum." The same pro
' posal to establish
a women's stud
ies curriculum
was made in 1988
and approved by
the College of
Arts and Sciences,
but it did not gain
approval from the
General Adminis
tration of the UNC
system, she said.
Last year,
1,500 students
enrolled in
women's studies
courses, Harris
said. "Women's
studies is the kind
Darlene Clark Hines,
of program that is
going to draw a great number of students
even if the number of majors and minors
remain low."
Women's studies courses include four
that are exclusively in women's studies
and 30 in other departments that are
cross-listed as women's studies courses.
Harris teaches Women's Studies 50,
which is offered only once, usually in the
spring, every academic year. "We don't
have enough money to teach it twice a
year," she said. "I can't teach it twice a
year because of my obligations in the
history department." Harris teaches a
history course on English women in the
early modern period.
To offer the class both semesters,
another professor would have to teach
the class one semester, and money would
be needed to hire teaching assistants, she
About 300 students register for
Women's Studies 50 each year, and 250
to 275 stay in the course, Harris said.
"Students regularly tell me the class
changes their lives," she said. "I know
they're not just telling me that for a
better grade because I don't give the
grades. My TAs do."
Men make up about 10 to 15 percent
of Harris' class, she said. "I would like
more men to be in that course. Women's
convinced that the center of the world
was 36 Maple wood Drive. Her idea of a
wonderful time was Sunday Dinner.
She bought UNICEF cards, but what
really mattered were the Girl Scouts.
I'm beginning to think my mother re
ally knew what she was doing."
In covering a much-touted study
of marriage demographics in the United
States, Newsweek reported a severe
"man shortage," and said a 40-year-old
woman'schance of getting married was
2.6 percent she had a better chance of
being killed by a terrorist.
Pam Hartley, a junior political sci
ence major from Andrews, said that the
media had not covered all the aspects of
the women's movement. "It's only
picked up on the extremist points. In
doing this, it's alienated a lot of women
whom the cause is about.
"Feminism is not reaching people
who need it. It hasn't touched women
who need the freedom, who need the
power, who need the self-respect," she
The Reagan-Bush effect:
Because such opposition to women's
issues stems from the government, the
feminist agenda must include electing
feminist candidates. "Those who come
out and vote for them will also vote
against George Bush," said National
Organization of Women President
Patricia Ireland at NOW's 25th anni
versary celebration on Jan. 12.
One-third of the budget cuts from
Ronald Reagan's first six years as presi
dent $50 billion came from social
programs that directly serve women,
according to Washington, D.C.'s Coa
lition on Women and the Budget. But
these programs only make up ten per
cent of the entire federal budget.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics re
ports that women get paid about 71
cents toevery man'sdollar. Yet Clarence
Pendleton of the U.S. Civil Rights Com
mission said in 1984 that equal pay for
equal work was "the looniest idea since
Looney Tunes came on the screen."
According to a 1989 U.S. Census
Bureau report, women represent two
thirds of all poor adults, and the average
female college graduate earns less than
a man with only a high school diploma.
"I am less than interested in playing
with the boys in the Democratic Party
anymore," Ireland said. "The reality is
that as each more-and-more conserva
tive justice has gone on the Supreme
Court, . they have been confirmed by a
Democratically controlled Senate."
Abortion in limbo
During the past two decades, the is
sue of abortion has triggered more de
bate than any other controversy. And
now that Clarence Thomas sits on the
Supreme Court, the right of women to
have an abortion faces a very real threat.
The Supreme Court will begin review
in the next few weeks of a Pennsylvania
case that might reverse Roe vs. Wade.
But the abortion challenge does have
one good effect: it is bringing many
women back to feminism, Wolfe said.
studies is a
a leading historian of Afro-American women,
studies is about women and men living
together. The fact that few men take the
course is the very reason we need it."
But Harris has gotten positive re
sponse from male students. "Last year I
had a guy come up to me and say, 'I took
this course to fulfill my social science
perspective, but you've convinced me
there's something in women'sstudies.'"
Erin Sullivan, a freshman biology
major, said she liked the class. "It gives
a lot of different views on a lot of
different issues."
Senior psychology major Blake
Campbell plans to graduate next year
with a minor in women's studies. He
has taken fourofthefivecourses needed
to complete the minor.
"I had started out wanting to be a
marriage counselor, so I started taking
courses because of that," he said. "I'm
interested in women. I wouldn't have
stayed in it if I didn't like it."
Even though his friends, male and
female, laugh when he tells them he is
minoring in women's studies, Campbell
is glad to have taken the courses be
cause they have been enlightening, he
said. "I never knew that women weren't
spoken about (in other classes)."
Freshman Alison Roxby said she took
Women's Studies 50 because the topic
mt 11 -" -" '
'especially women who are young
enough to have always believed they
had the right to an abortion."
They are being mobilized by the at
tempt to take that right back.Wolfe said.
"Women in my generation had to fight
to believe we were entitled to it, and
then fight for the right to have it."
Wolfe said she remembered the days
of illegal abortions and the numbers of
women who died from them.
"Women 16, 18. 20. 30 years old
don't remember that," she said. "The
idea was that they would never have to
learn that except in history."
Young women now they find out the
Supreme Court can take their rights
away. "Some guys can say 'No, we
changed our minds. You are no longer
persons,'" Wolfe said.
Destructive or constructive?
Other developments that appear de
structive to women's rights actually are
beneficial, many say. The Anita Hill
controversy is a prime example of this.
"The fact that the Senate Judiciary
Committee did not have a clue about
what to do about, or any respect for, the
charges brought up by Anita Hill made
a lot of women angry," Wolfe said.
The Thomas hearings has had a posi
tive effect on women, Gilligan said.
"Although the lack of consideration
given to sexual harassment outraged
women, twice as many sexual harass
ment suits are being filed.
"Just bringing those issues to the
forefront had a positive effect on those
women who are dealing with those is
sues, and thought they were all alone,"
Sinreich said.
Women are beginning to show their
anger at the polls. In the March 17
Illinois Democratic primary, Carol
Moseley Brown defeated incumbent
U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon, ending his 42
year political career. Dixon cast the
pivotal vote in the Thomas hearings last
October, confirming the judge to his
Supreme Court seat.
The first black woman nominated for
a Senate seat by a major political party,
Brown's success can be partially attrib
uted to Dixon's approval of Thomas.
"It was not the bad-check scandal;
there was no anti-incumbency feeling,"
Wolfe said. "A lot of male political
analysts are trying to say that. People
were just furious at how Anita Hill was
What's to come
The white flag is not rising; women
aren't surrendering. Despite the omens
in advertising, television, film, court
rulings and the workplace, women are
becoming more aware of the inequality
of the sexes, and recognizing that the
status quo doesn't work is the first step
towards equality.
A sign of the times: The writing may
be on the bathroom walls. A debate
about the politics and ethics of abortion
rages in the stalls of the women's lava
tory in Lenoir. One woman observed:
"We must be oppressed if we are re
duced to writing on bathroom walls."
major deal
guest lectures in Women's Studies 50
interested her. "It's one of my favorite
classes this year," she said.
Matthew Conigliaro, a senior politi
cal science and psychology major, is
taking "Women and Politics," a politi
cal science course cross-listed as a
women's studies course.
But Conigliaro didn't register for the
course for his major. "I took it because
I wanted to be exposed to a field I hadn 't
taken a course in," he said.
Conigliaro said he had become more
understanding of women's issues. "I've
learned a lot about things I didn't know
He said he would recommend the
course to everyone, so they could be
exposed to women's issues. "People
should take it, especially guys."
Harris said women's studies has be
come a well-established field and disci
pline in most first-rate institutions.
Christina Greene, project director of
the Duke-UNC Center for Research on
Women, said it was important to keep
women's studies programs around.
"It's important to incorporate
women's studies into mainstream stud
ies to reflect the experiences of a di
verse population, and at the same time
to have special women's studies programs."
7 w
f I if
Mary McRae, admitted in 1 897,
Jl 7
(IH(C women Battfe jbr
equality through tfte years
"Ladies and Gentlemen."
During the month of March the
University focused its attention on the
former in celebration of National
Women's History Month. But for the
past 95 years the University has largely
focused on the latter.
"This University has always been a
college of, by, and for men, which
largely accounts for its strengths of
character," said The Tar Heel new spa
perin a stance opposing the building
of Spencer Hall for women in 1923.
The battle for coeducation was
fought in small increments.
According to Pamela Dean's
"Women on the Hill," the "angels on
campus," as lady visitors were called ,
by male students, began the quest for
equal educational opportunities in the
mid-1 800s. Women could take classes
If their families lived in town, but even
those women often were relegated to a
separate room so as not to distract the
young men, Dean said.
The summer normal school, a coed
summer program, opened in 1877,
Enrollment of women reached almost
50 percent; but then the program was
closed in 1884.
In 1 897, University President Edwin
Alderman persuaded the Board of
Trustees to admit women to post
graduate courses. He liberally inter
preted the trustees' resolution to in
clude junior-and seniorIevelcoui so
Women who spent their first two years
at schools like Guilford or Meredith
could transfer to UNC.
Beginning in 1917, daughters of
local residents were admitted as fresh
men and sophomores. Dean said.
But even though women were ad
mitted to the University, they were not
accepted. Female faces were missing
from yearbook class pictures, and
women received their diplomas pri
vately rather than at graduation.
Graduation rates reflected the cam
pus mentality that didn't take female
students seriously. More than half of
those who enrolled in the first class of
women did not graduate, Pean said.
Inadequate housing left women
stranded, Dean said; Women lived in
town either at home, with faculty or
in boarding houses. In this way, women
missed an integral part of campus life.
"To continue to admit (women)
in the half-hearted way, and to furnish
them with classroom instruction with
out the other features which make up
college life, is a rather doubtful kind
ness to them," President Edward Kid
der Graham said in 1917.
Responding to demands, the Uni
versity built two houses in 1921 on
adjoining lots for about 45 of the 65
women enrolled. But even two houses
did not stifle the pleas of Inez Stacy,
the women's adviser. Stacy pressed
for a women's dormitory to be built in
honor of Cornelia Phillips Spencer.
Ihe "Battle or !pencer Hall" en
sued. The Tar Heel printed an extra
edition "for the avowed purpose of
preventing the building of the dormi
tory," Dean said. The paper ran two
stinging editorials, "Women Not
Wanted Here" and "Shaves and Shines
but no Rats and Rouge."
The women won the battle despite
the overwhelming male student oppo
sition. The cost of victory totaled
$100,000, the amount approved to
build Spencer Hall. The dormitory
opened in 1925.1n 1929.77ofthe l36
women enrolled lived in Spencer.
But victory was incomplete. Spen
cer Hall lacked two wings approved in
the original plan. "(Women s adviser)
Stacy asked the University 's business
manager, 'When do you think I'll get
my wings r He said, t think you'll get
your wings when you get to heaven ! " "
The faculty was unanimously in
favor of coeducation. Dean said. Frank
Porter Graham said in the early 70s,
sits with her fellow Tar Heel editors
"My belief in co-education at the
University is part of my belief in the
Even though some were commit
ted to coeducation, June West, a
1938 graduate in pharmacy, said,
"Only five percent of the freshmen
class could be women (in 1934)."
Both West and her twin sister,
Jean Bush Provo, also a 1938 gradu
ate in pharmacy, were a significant
and impressive minority. Of the 21
students in the pharmacy class, only
four were women, West said.
Sometimes the sisters received
special treatment. "You were a pe
culiarity,'' West said. "They would
put you on the front row." One pro
fessor always greeted them, "How
are you girls today?"
Both sisters refuted the stereo
type that then women studied only
for their "Mrs." degree. "We didn't
think about marriage," Provo said.
"We thought about getting by the
(pharmacy) board,"
Only the most dedicated and mo
tivated women played intramural
sports. "There were no lockers, and
we had to practice at night. It was
really a glorified physical education
class, but at least you got some exer
cise," West said.
Exercising was one of the few
privileges women could enjoy. The
rest of their lives were highly regu
lated. Dormitories closed at 1 1 p.m.
w on weekends, Dean said. All women,
even those in boarding houses, used
a sign-out system. Six people had to
be present for a female student to
visit a man in his apartment.
William S. Powell , UNC history
professor emeritus and member of
the class of 1938, said: "Women had
to wear hose if they went downtown.
Slacks and shorts were unheard of.
Men dressed in shirts and ties."
The status of women at the Uni
versity did not change significantly
until 1951, when freshman women
from across the state were admitted
to the School of Nursing. In 1954,
the Schools of Medical Technology,
Dental Hygiene and Physical
ri Therapy admitted freshman women.
Enrollment of women increased
50 percent from 1,000 in the early
'50s to more than 2,000 in 1963.
Freshman women were admitted to
the fine arts programs in 1963, and
then later to all other programs.
In 1972, "discrimination on the
basis of sex in admission, financial
aid, housing, and other 'comparable
facilities'" ended with the passage
of Title DC of the Federal Education
"By the early '70s, the require
ment that women live in University
housing was gone, closing hours
were gone, the dress code was gone
... the walls of women's rules were
gone," Dean said. "Even the Dean of
Women was gone; women were on
their own."
University women vigorously
sought the status that had been de
nied to them. In 1977, UNCteachers
and students filed sex-discrimination
charges over the distribution of
lockers in Woollen Gym, because
men were assigned 85 percent of the
lockers even though women made
up 40 percent of the student body.
The women's fight for equality in
admissions culminated in 1977 when
women outnumbered men in the
freshmen class for the first time.
Since then, undergraduate women
have outnumbered their male coun
terparts. This spring, 60 percent of
the students enrolled are women.
In the summer session of 1916,
The Tar Heel commented on the
abundance of women: "It was
women, women everywhere. Cur
tains fluttered coquettishly out of all
the dormitory windows."
If they could only see the num
bers now.

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